ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Stars Come Out for "Awesome/Awful" Audio, Plus Unlikely Couple Len Cariou and Dr. Jane Goodall

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23 Apr 2012

Megan Hilty enjoys a good read
Megan Hilty enjoys a good read

A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


"My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan" is finally out as an audio book. I spent two weeks recording it and then someone edited all of our different takes and now it's officially available. The characters, the actors who play them and the premise follow.

In a shocking act of nepotism, I cast myself as the lead character, Justin Goldblatt who's an overweight, unpopular 15-year-old who sports a Jewfro. Justin is sick of being the school loser and decides that this year he will become popular and somehow start dating Chuck, the school quarterback played by Will Swenson. Chuck is dating Becky (played by Megan Hilty), one of the most popular girls in school and one of the prettiest. One day after detention, Becky's blustering father (Marc Kudisch) makes them break up because Becky is destined to become a doctor and Chuck is dumb jock. Since Justin is a bio whiz whom Becky's father approves of, he comes up with a scheme where he'll pretend to date Becky so she can secretly keep dating Chuck (and Justin can secretly try to win over Chuck!). The plot gets very convoluted because even though Justin becomes popular with all the so-called cool kids, he loses the real friends he's had for years like Quincy Slatton (played by Paul Castree) plus he has to avoid his annoying, meddling mother (Andrea Burns) and, worst of all, he has to deal with his disapproving and vegan best friend, Spencer (played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson…recorded via Skype from L.A.). And always the character actress, Ana Gasteyer, plays the teacher who complains about her maladies non-stop, earning the nickname "E.R." Ms. Horvath is her real name, but she's called E.R. because every time a student passes her in the hallway she can be heard loudly complaining about her "bum fibula" or telling someone about her acupuncture and that "those painful needles are simply not helping my colon do its job in a timely manner." You can hear all of these amazing actors as well as my signature nasality by visiting audible.com.  Now, let me give you a directive to go see the feature film "Chimpanzee." This week, specifically!

Seth with Dr. Jane Goodall

I just interviewed Dr. Jane Goodall on "Seth Speaks," and she told me that Disney is donating a portion of the profits to The Jane Goodall Institute, which helps save chimpanzees. But only for the first week of the film, so get thee ASAP! It was so cool interviewing her because she's such a pioneer. Back in the early '60s she got funding to observe chimps in the wild even though they had never been observed before (they always got spooked and ran away). Of course, at first they didn't trust her and kept running away, and I asked her how she had the patience to keep coming back every day. She said (in her British accent), "Hmm…let me give you an example of my patience." She then proceeded to tell me that when she was four (!) she went to a farm on a little family vacation and her job was to collect eggs. She knew the hens were responsible for the eggs but had no idea where they came from on the hen's body. She kept asking but nobody would tell her. So, she sat in the hen house and waited until a hen laid an egg so she could find out. She was four years old and she sat there expectantly for…four hours! So, to her, going back into the wild day after day and hoping the chimps would finally act normally around her wasn't a big deal. Because she was finally able to observe them in their natural habitat, she was the first person to find out that chimps made and used tools! No other animals had been observed doing that. And chimps were always thought of as being vegetarians, but she observed them eating meat. Of course, it went way too far and she also saw them also be cannibals. Horrifying. She's a vegetarian (like me!) and I asked her if she cooks for herself. After I asked that, I got British sassed: "How can I cook when I'm on the road 350 days of the year?!" Ok! Ok! She's in her 70s and looks amazing and when I told her that Juli loves chimps and wildlife she recommended her organization called Roots and Shoots. It's for young people and combines nature conservancy and community service. Brava! Go to www.RootsAndShoots.org and see "Chimpanzee," which Dr. Goodall says has the most amazing chimpanzee footage she's ever seen.


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